Historically, US Foreign policy has been chaotic. Why? Ask Kevin Rose.
Yesterday, the HD-DVD decryption code was hacked and someone posted it in a blog. Where would one expect that to show up first? Did you say Digg? Well of course you did!
That's where it ended up. Kevin Rose and the Digg crew received a cease and desist. So the Digg crew started to cease and desist. They removed dugg stories and those that linked to them.
They told people to knock it off. When they didn't knock it off, people were suspended. This was the diplomatic response to external pressure. It was Digg's foreign policy.
Why? Because communities do not live alone. And communities often have different desires than their leaders. The Digg community of people who would care about this code live inside Digg. There are other communities in Digg that don't care about the code. Digg lives inside other communities. The social media community. The startup community. The Web 2.0 community. The VC-funded community. The corporate community. The legal community. And on and on and on.
Digg initially tried to respond to the outside pressure. But then digg users went crazy and dugg a jillion stories with the code in it. Soon nearly everything on Digg had the code. What's a Digg to do?
They had to give in to the internal demands and change their foreign policy.
The Digg users are a democratic organization at best, a mob at worst. But like The Moral Majority, the NRA, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, NARAL or any other democratic mob - they knew the way to get their agenda on the table was to take direct action.
Kevin Rose, Jay Adelson and the rest of the Digg crew responded to protect the community from an outside threat. The community on the inside rapidly responded that curtailing freedom in its defense was unacceptable.
In the end, the Digg crew stopped deleting stories. They stopped searching and destroying offending posts. And threw up this internal community white flag:
... after seeing hundreds of stories and reading thousands of comments, you’ve made it clear. You’d rather see Digg go down fighting than bow down to a bigger company. We hear you, and effective immediately we won’t delete stories or comments containing the code and will deal with whatever the consequences might be.
If we lose, then what the hell, at least we died trying.
Commentary on the cease and desist order may come later from me, but right now, I'm once again fascinated by the parallels of on-line communities to other human communities. How we act and react. How governments and citizenry debate. How policy is generated.
"Yeah great," Kevin Rose is thinking, "meanwhile I'm the guy that has to pay the lawyers..."
Blogged at the Interbay Starbucks in Seattle Using Windows Live Writer